This most interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and derives from an Olde English pre 7th Century personal name, "Aethelstan", composed of the elements "aethel", noble and "stan", stone; hence "noble stone". Variants of the surname in the modern idiom include Athelstan, Addlestone, Edleston and Ethelstone. The popularity of the name is borne out by the number of surnames it has generated. The personal name is recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Kent as "Adelstanus" in 1195. Hugo filius Athelstan appears in the Assize Court Rolls of Lincolnshire in 1218, and Herbertus filius Edelstani is recorded in 1240 in the Cartulary of the Abbey of Ramsey (Norfolk). The surname from this source first appears in the late 12th Century (see below), while one Geoffrey Athelstan is listed in the Assize Court Rolls of Lincolnshire in 1219. An interesting bearer of the personal name was Ethelstan (circa 946) a nobleman (ealdorman) of East Anglia and member of the royal house of Wessex, who was nicknamed "the Half-King" by reason of his great power, and became a monk at Glastonbury (956). Charles Ethelston was christened at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, on August 12th 1740. A Coat of Arms depicting on a pile between two gold cross crosslets in base, a purple eagle displayed, on a blue shield, was granted to the Ethelston family at Wicksted Hall, Cheshire, with the Motto "Dat et sumat deus" (God giveth and taketh away). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Athelston, which was dated circa 1198, in the "History of St. Bartholomew's Hospital", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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